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Roy Higgins Quality preview

A critical leg of the quaddie tomorrow at Flemington is the staying race, the Roy Higgins Quality, named after the late and great champion rider of the 70s and 80s. Returning to the blog after a few months off is Calum Gogerley, @_gogs10, with his assessment of this very difficult encounter.

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Roy Higgins Quality
2600m, AU$120,000, Listed
Flemington R8
1710 local, 0610 GMT


Speed: Expect (3) Northwest Passage to press forward after those tactics were successful for him at Moonee Valley last night. You would think (5) Mujadale would be up there disputing the lead with him while (2) Big Memory and (8) Dandy Gent can race prominently, every horse should get their chance.

1. Almoonqith ($15)- Didn't get warm last week in a hot WFA race at Caulfield. It took him a few runs to come to hand and get into his best work last prep but once he did he put together some blinding runs. He finished fourth in a Caulfield Cup and sixth in a Melbourne Cup which simply reads as outstanding form for a race of this nature. He might need more racing to show his best but you can't ignore those runs in those two majors, he looks a huge chance despite having to concede weight to all rivals.

2. Big Memory ($5)- Having a typically honest campaign, but as has been the case for most of his career he can't seem to find the winning post first. October 2014 was his last win so it is well and truly at the alarming stage the time between drinks. He meets Northwest Passage a little better at the weights for a defeat last time, but he is a hard horse to tip to win.

3. Northwest Passage ($4)- In a rare vein of form after bringing up the hatrick last start. He went straight to the front, dawdled and when challenged found a great kick to fight off his rivals in a similar class race to today. He did have it pretty soft though and will have to handle a little more pressure this time around I think, but you can't deny the form he is racing in.

4 De Little Engine ($7.50)- Took the step last prep from being one of those good quality off season performers to being competitive in Group 1 races such as the Caulfield Cup. He usually takes a few runs to warm up, but he passed all runners bar the winner first up at Caulfield. Similar to Almoonqith, if he brings his form from those runs in those elite staying races then he is arguably the one to beat in this.

5. Mujadale ($34)- Wily old veteran who has been part of the staying scene in Victoria for over half a decade. He makes his own luck up on speed and gets some weight relief after some fair efforts in two country cups. Not the worst.

6. Like A Carousel ($34)- Shows absolutely no tactical speed and always finds himself with too much work to do at the end of his races. Two wins from 43 says it all, I'm not interested.

7. Cadillac Mountain ($8.50)- Lining up for his sixth run in the past eight weeks so don't expect fitness to be an issue stepping up to the 2600m. He has performed well at this distance in both times he has seen it, it might be exactly what he is looking for at this stage of the prep. Another good chance in a tough race.

8. Dandy Gent ($23)- Improved noticeably last start when pushed up to a true staying trip. He meets some of his key rivals similar at the weights here. He doesn't win out of turn, but he isn't alone there in this race. You can't take them all though and she would be one I'd have to leave out.

9. Annus Mirabilis ($7)- Really found his best form over the summer months after stepping up to 2400m and beyond culminating in a dominant win on New Year's Day. I thought he came back extremely well off a six-week freshen at 2000m. With all things being equal and up to a suitable trip, he rates as one of the hardest to beat despite a tricky barrier.

10. Darabad ($23)- French import who won a listed race at Clairefontaine in August before struggling in a Group 2 at his most recent start. As always the internationals are hard to line up, but we know that they are generally at a better overall level than our stayers. Under the care of a wily trainer, don't let him blow you out of the quaddie.

11. Double Bluff ($26)- Won nicely at this track two back before a reasonable effort last time after strangely dropping back in trip considerably. Back up to a staying trip would appear to be a positive.

12. Post D'France ($12)- Broke an almost two year drought here last start where he came from off the pace to score. His last three have all been good but his up to a real staying trip for the first time in his career. A lot of his rivals are proven at this trip, so I will be avoiding him today.

14. Settlers Stone ($26)- Brings form from across the Apple Isle with him. He has been pretty competitive in the Hobart and Launceston Cups which is probably a similar sort of standard race to what he faces today. It seems the trip won't prove much of an issue but from that gate I can see him getting buried away back in the field. Have to risk him.

Tips: Gee this is a tough race. Lots of different form lines mashing together make it tricky to assess. In an open race I'm going to go with Almoonqith at a big price on an each way basis. It won't be easy given he is giving them all weight and he may be a run or two short but if he can produce anywhere near that Caulfield Cup run today then he will give himself every chance to win. Annus Mirabilis is in for second after a pleasing return from a little freshen up, will eat up the extra trip. De Little Engine and Northwest Passage next, but it doesn't end there.

1. Almoonqith
2. Annus Mirabilis
3. De Little Engine
4. Northwest Passage

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